This is the second cold, miserable winter both in Northern NY (where we spend most of the year) and in central Virginia, where we supposedly go to spend the winter away from snow and ice. How well is that working? Not very! Last week it was below zero, the first sub-zero reading in this area in 15 years. And I got up this morning to 6″ of fresh snow–actually 5″ of snow over 1″ of slush since road surfaces were warm enough to melt the first of the snow. This was quite a shock since at 11 PM there was nary a flake and the forecast was for an inch or so–maybe. We’ve had more snow in central Virginia than they’ve had in Northern NY—-weird. What was now a cold snap is now the Polar Vortex, and some climatologists say that we’ll see more of this due to the melting of Arctic ice. It seems strange that warmer temps at the North Pole results in colder winters in the Northeast. Meanwhile, Alaskans are basking in what for them is blissfully warm temps–even in Fairbanks.
It will be interesting to see what impact this weather has on perennial forages. Last year we saw serious winter injury on some forage grasses including orchardgrass and tall fescue. Not consistent–spotty, fortunately. But last year the cold was accompanied by serious icing in some areas, and I think ice may be worse for grasses than the cold. We’ll see, since much of the Northeast has been blanketed with snow almost continuously for the past two months. If we do see injury this spring we may have to start re-evaluating forage choices and management. The temptation will be to avoid knee-jerk reactions while not ignoring the facts on the ground.